The Poetry of Cuba’s Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda

Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda was a 19th-century Cuban writer. A prolific artist she wrote 20 plays and numerous poems. Her most famous work is SAB, the first antislavery novel ever written, which she published in 1841. This is my translation of her sonnet Al Partir (Upon Departure) which inspired the music of the tone poem of the same title written by my friend, Cuban-American composer Yalil Guerra: .

Star of the West! Beautiful Cuba!
Your brilliant skies obscured
By Night’s opaque veil
Painfully darken my sad countenance.

I depart. The diligent crew hoists the sails
As the awakened breezes,
Hastily summoned from tropical climes
Pluck me away from my birthplace.

Farewell, happy homeland! Beloved Eden!
No matter where the furious fates propel me
Your sweet name will caress my ears.

Now urgently rustle the swelling sails,
The anchor unmoors, and the trembling vessel
Silently and swiftly slices the waves.